October 1 Board meeting moved forward, on a 3-2 vote, the Cost of Service Study (COSS) 9%, 9%, 9% rate increases for the next three years (Directors King and Gruzdowich, representing Fairbanks Ranch and RSF, voted against this rate increase proposal). At the Oct. 15 meeting, the Board agreed with my proposal to delay the Prop. 218 hearing on the rate increase proposal until the February 2016 meeting. This means that the written explanation of the rate proposal and 218 protest hearing procedures will be mailed out the first of January, rather than during the December holiday season, when many customers are traveling and unable to discuss the rate proposal with neighbors or ask questions of District staff.
A number of S.F.I.D. customers have remarked that it is unfair to propose rate increases in the middle of a period where customers are penalized if they exceed their allocations. In fact, the COSS was initially proposed for 2014, but delayed by the previous Board until after the election of Nov. 2014, because three of the five seats were up for election.
By the way, during the 2010 COSS, the previous Board did not vote to establish drought rates, as recommended by the water rate consultant. Consequently, the water rate consultant and District staff recommended “allocations” in May 2015 to meet the Governor’s reduction mandate. The current COSS again proposes drought rates, and the current Board approved moving forward with both “normal” water rates and “water shortage” rates.
Finally, the proposed rate increases are “not to exceed” numbers: the Board will analyze, at the beginning of each year or at the beginning of a water shortage condition, whether the District’s financial position requires the 9% increase or the maximum water shortage increase, or whether a lesser increase is warranted. The public will always have the opportunity to write the Board or speak in person at the Board meeting where this “yearly rate consideration” is on the agenda.
Interesting Facts and Hints:
- S.F.I.D. water use was down 38% in September! The District and Board are very appreciative of our customers’ continual sacrifice and personal inconvenience in reaching and succeeding the Governor’s mandated water reduction goals.
- I continue to recommend you take photographs, before winter rains hit, of the condition of your outside landscaping to document the effect of the 36% reduction. The District hears rumblings that Sacramento desires to continue to force local water purveyors to follow regulations set by Sacramento.
- Prepare for winter rain. Due to dry soil conditions, early hard rainfall could result in “debris flow” flooding. Exceedingly dry soil is less able to quickly absorb heavy rainfall, and debris flow conditions tend to be fast moving, picking up loose dirt, leaves, and debris. Go outside and evaluate your drainage systems: imagine early hard rainfall that sheets off your property, rather than slowly absorbed, moving leaves and branches that might block your drainage systems. Visualize worst case scenarios to be alert to how to prevent possibly blocked drains from debris flow.
- El Nino predictions are now 100% for Nov. – Jan. “This is as close as you’re going to get to a sure thing,” Bill Patzert, a climatologist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory told the New York Times on October 12. He said this winter’s El Nino is “too big to fail.” While no one can predict the weather, all signals point to Southern California receiving higher than normal rainfall through March 2016
- Number of citations for Use Restriction Notifications – 2015: As of October 15, there have been a total of 377 1st notices; 17 2nd notices, and 1 3rd notice. (Financial penalties result from 2nd – 3rd notices.)
- Number of Water Allocation Variances – 2015. As of October 15, there were 372 submittals of which 342 were approved and 30 denied. Of the 30 denials, 10 were appealed. Of the ten appeals, 7 were approved and 3 denied.